By AmiRa Farhoud

If you take a tour around Bethlehem Bible College on a school day, you will probably notice that 60% of the students are female. If you take a closer look, you’ll notice that many of those females are wearing rings. Yes, they are married. And not only married, but many of them also have children; some more than two! Despite these challenges, they still manage to study, work and raise their children.  Although I am already a feminist, I have to admit that these women are really strong! Today, I would like to introduce you to one of them…

Patricia Hashwa is a third-year student in the Biblical studies program.  This 36-year old student is married to Wael Hashwa from Gaza. She is also a mother to 3 amazing children: Sara, who is 10 years old; Daniel, 6; and Jimmy, 5.

As I interviewed Patricia, I discovered a courageous woman of great perseverance.  Here is Patricia in her own words:

Early Life

I was born in a believing Christian family and raised in the local Baptist Church in Bethlehem, where I attended Sunday School as well as Youth Group.

In my adolescent years, I committed my life to the Lord Jesus at a Youth Conference, made Him Lord and Savior of my life, and obeyed Him in baptism. I went through many experiences, but God was very faithful to me and used me in worship and praise ministry in my church. He also called me to share the Gospel message in small groups to help them grow in their faith to a point where they could go out and evangelize and disciple others.

I studied nursing and worked in this field for two years upon my graduation. Then I got married and moved to Gaza with my husband where we served the Lord in the area of Youth Ministry in the Baptist Church in Gaza, as well as in the area of Married Couples and Discipleship.

Because of special circumstances, we were able to leave Gaza and move to Bethlehem with our children. Once they were settled in school, I returned to study at Bethlehem Bible College.

Ministering in the Field of God

I think God had been showing me for years that He wanted me to be part of a discipleship program, but as a teenager and young adult, I wasn’t part of a ministry and I didn’t have a compelling interest in discipleship. After I got married, however, I began to understand much more, and my hunger for God began to grow. My husband was already in ministry. As I began to help him, it made more and more sense for me to pursue further ministry training.

Now I serve as a volunteer nurse in a poor Palestinian village which is in dire need of medical services. I have also served the Lord in the area of discipleship and evangelism with the “Life of Love” organization in Palestine. When we were in Gaza, I served the Lord through the Baptist Church as a  Sunday School teacher and assisting the Young Married Couples Ministry at our church.

Changing lives

Today, a big portion of my ministry looks like this:  We go to the villages and we minister to the ladies there by providing Bible-based training for them–and I am seeing changes in their lives! I listen to them sharing about what they have learned from the training and I can see the difference. When we do medical days in the villages, we are able to show the love of Christ to them.  This expression of His love and care is also bringing a change in their hearts and lives.

Bethlehem Bible College

For the past 4 years, the desire to study at BBC had been growing in my heart.  I knew that I needed seminary training, because it will open doors for me in ministry and make me more effective, especially in the knowledge of the Bible and how to study it.

Attending this college has changed my life in many ways. I have learned so much through my studies at BBC. This has led me to a deeper understanding of the Holy Bible.  It has strengthened my relationship with the Lord and has helped me grow on a personal level by giving me greater confidence in myself.  All of this has helped me forge new relationships.

And more than that; in the area of ministry, the things I have learned at BBC have helped me share God’s word more effectively.

Of course, I’m not saying that it was easy. I faced many different challenges during my studies at the college; especially finding time to teach my children, in addition to my responsibilities as a wife and mother. But through the grace of God, I have been able to manage everything.

Future Plans

I will complete my studies at BBC soon, and I hope to continue to specialize at the post-graduate level in Bible-related studies.  My desire is to be able to present God’s word more powerfully, based on my knowledge and deeper understanding of the word of God.

A Message to all the strong women out there

If you have a goal, don’t let anything in the world to stop you, not even your own children. They will be so proud of you when you accomplish it, and you will teach them that it is possible to reach their own goals! I know it is hard but it’s not impossible.  If you ask God, He will help you organize your time and work. You will see yourself turning from being a normal girl to a strong and powerful woman!